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John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday: Marvel travels to 2099

by John Jackson Miller and Joyce Greenholdt  Bookmark and Share

We've added several new titles to the Title Spotlights section today, and we're hoping to make some regular updates to the section in the future. This week we added circulation statements for a number of titles for Marvel Comics' 2099 imprint from the 1990s. The imprint re-imagined the origins of several popular Marvel characters in a dark future setting. The line launched with Spider-Man 2099 in November 1992, followed by Ravage 2099 (a completely new super-hero created by Stan Lee), Doom 2099, and Punisher 2099 in successive months.

All four 2099 saw impressive first-issue sales, with Spider-Man 2099 leading the pack with sales of 300,000 copies through Capital City Distribution alone. The 2099 titles remained popular enough that Marvel followed up with several more. X-Men 2099 #1 was released in late 1993 and followed a new band of mutants and rebels fighting the power of the Mega-Corps. Sales of the first issue didn't reach Spider-Man 2099's heights, but like Punisher 2099, the issue sold more than 200,000 copies just through Capital City. X-Men 2099 also went to a second printing and had a 15,000-copy Gold edition sold exclusively through Diamond Comics Distributors.

By May 1994, when Ghost Rider 2099 made its debut, the imprint was losing ground. This title's first issue sold less than 75,000 copies through Capital City, with both a regular and a collector variant available. Ghost Rider went cyberpunk in the future, with the main character's consciousness being downloaded into a robot body. The series went to 25 issues, and was the last of the 2099 titles to run more than a year before being canceled.

The comics industry collapsed in the mid-1990s, which certainly affected the 2099 imprint as a whole. All the ongoing 2099 titles were canceled in 1995 and 1996, and were briefly replaced by a single eight-issue series, 2099: World of Tomorrow, which ran through April 1997 and featured surviving characters from across the 2099 line. The 2099: Manifest Destiny one-shot concluded the line in March 1998, although various Marvel titles have revisted the world since then. Most recently, the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game released in September 2010 includes the Spider-Man of 2099.
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